Make no mistake: Oscar loves the movies.
Of the nine films in contention to be named Best Picture, the two with the most overall nominations – Hugo, with 11, and The Artist, with 10 – focus on the art form in its infancy and each is a Valentine to the medium – but will one of them snag Oscar's heart?
Having already earned Martin Scorsese a Golden Globe for his direction, Hugo sets its story in Paris, where orphan Hugo Cabret helps the real-life 1900s screen pioneer Georges Melies (played by Ben Kingsley) enjoy renewed appreciation in 1931.
With a number critics' circle awards as best picture of 2011, BAFTA's and the Producers Guild best picture of the year awards and the best musical or comedy motion picture Golden Globe, The Artist, set in 1927, examines of Hollywood's transition from silents to talkies as it affects a successful leading man (Jean Dujardin) who staunchly refuses to adapt to the new process.
As both movies vie for the top prize, the other leading contenders among the nine pictures in the running include the Screen Actors Guild best ensemble cast winner (the group's equivalent of the best picture prize) The Help, the critics' favorite The Descendants and the Writers Guild Award winner, Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.
But what movie title will be called out at the end of Oscar night?